As Ireland votes on marriage equality, and on the heels of my own wedding anniversary, I was wanting to write a post about how queer and fabulous my life in suburbia is, but, honestly, if it wasn’t for my wife, you probably wouldn’t even know I was gay. The only even vaguely gay thing I did today was kiss her. And it wasn’t even a big wet frenchie or anything. Just a peck on the cheek on her way out the door.
It kind of begs the question – if it’s just about trying to make sure someone gets the garbage to the curb (she did) and power struggling about who holds the remote (also her) – what’s the big deal about marriage equality, anyway?
A while ago we had a terrible/great dining experience. The restaurant was somewhere you go for the patio and view. It’s known for putting out solidly mediocre food, and, this time anyway, they were putting out mediocre service too. The kitchen was sssslllllooooowwww (that’s like slow but a lot more) and by only 7pm, they had run out of three of the dishes on their eight dish menu.
Our waiter, oh let’s call him Paul, was hustling but still we sat with dirty dishes for 20 minutes and the coffee we ordered with dessert was stone cold. At the end of the meal, Paul, who, let’s be honest, was having a much worse evening than us, took not just the creamer off our table to give to the couple to our right but also GRABBED THE COFFEE SPOON OFF OUR TABLE AT THE SAME TIME and gave that them that as well. Terry and I exchanged a startled, did-that-really-just-happen??? look and bolted. Really, Paul? Cold coffee is one thing but cutlery going from table to table? That is not OK.
However, Paul, my sweaty, overwhelmed friend, I forgive your multitude of server sins because you assumed the two women holding hands, bickering, and eating off each other’s plates were a couple, and – without double checking first –gave us one cheque.
You’re thinking and??
One of the most unconsciously heterosexist assumptions we routinely confront is: “Will this be together?” at the conclusion of a restaurant meal. It happens to us a lot. A LOT. Sometimes, when the kids were little, we’d be in a restaurant all together and the server would ask us “Would you like me to split the cheque?” and I’d think really? How? How would you split this? These three children (all clearly siblings), these two women (both obviously parenting); how would you split it?
What I’m asking is: Why does splitting us up make more sense than considering us a family?
Lots of (straight, mainstream) people, think it’s an overreaction to take offense at this. We ask everyone that, a server claimed once. But I call bullshit on that. If a woman and a man are eating together in a restaurant, it is the rare server who will ask if they want separate cheques, and anyway, if that does happen, it doesn’t matter because THE WHOLE ENTIRE REST OF THE WORLD recognizes they’re a couple. Their relationship is not invisible. It is recognized and validated and legitimized, unequivocally and repeatedly.
My first-glance-queer-factor rating depends who you ask. OK, it doesn’t really. The truth is that I pass for straight, and mostly people I meet assume I am. They assume I’m straight, they assume my wife and I are friends, and they assume my family isn’t a real family. I know they’re wrong, but having to constantly remind yourself of your own validity gets, well, a little tiring.
Which takes me back to the original question: what is the big deal with marriage equality, anyway? Getting married changed everything and changed nothing. Would we still be together and raising kids and getting asked about separate cheques if we weren’t married? I’m sure we would. But we deserved the right to choose marriage when we wanted it because our relationship has as much validity as any straight couple’s.
And when that right is enshrined in law, it’s not just me and my wife that say so.